Russian army has 4M artillery shells, 350K received from outside

Evidence has surfaced of a substantial shipment of artillery rounds from North Korea to Russia. The Ukraine Weapons Tracker account on erstwhile Twitter, now renamed as social network X, recently leaked photographs showing 122-mm and 152-mm projectiles. This raises questions about the scale and depth of collaboration between these nations.

Reports from ERR.ee indicate that the head of the Estonian Defense Forces’ intelligence center, Ants Kiviselg, has confirmed the Russian Federation received 350,000 ammunition units from North Korea. If Russia utilizes approximately 10,000 units per day, this cache would last slightly more than a month.

The deeper implication is the potential for North Korea to be an ongoing provider of artillery rounds for Russia, and the uncertainty about the terms of this relationship. The possibility of this being a long-term alliance, with future shipments planned, is a concerning prospect.

Russia shows the use of forgotten 203mm Pion artillery in Ukraine
Photo: YouTube

Estonian intelligence shared another alarming statistic — the Russian Federation currently hosts 4 million artillery rounds, sufficient for a year-long, low-intensity conflict. It is imperative to monitor how this discovery impacts the perceived balance of military resources in the region.

OSINT analyst @HerrDr8 recently published data suggesting Russian forces are expending 7,000 rounds daily from their artillery systems, a record low since February 2022. At this rate, assuming no future supply, Russia’s ammunition stocks would deplete in around 19 months. Should the daily usage rise to 10,000 rounds per day, the ammunition would last up to 13 months.

It is, however, imprudent to prematurely assume Russia’s depletion of munitions within a year. This timeline does not consider potential future supplies and Russia’s domestic ammunition production capacities.

There are reports from Western media outlets in September indicating plans within the Russian Federation to ramp up yearly artillery ammunition production to 2 million with the timeline remaining unspecified. Presently, Russia has the capability to produce between 1 and 1.5 million artillery rounds annually, or between 83-125 thousand units per month.

By contrast, the United States, the chief artillery round supplier to Ukraine, produces 28,000 155-mm units monthly with plans to scale up production to 100,000 monthly units [or 1.2 million units annually] by 2026. Even France recently revealed plans to triple its ammunition exports to Ukraine—from 1,000 units in January 2023 to 3,000 by January 2024.

Budanov, the head of the GUR MOU, noted the troubling trend of ammunition consumption surpassing production rates. This dynamic underscores the shifting dynamics in global ammunition supplies and the potential implications on international relations and conflicts.

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